Pakistan: Polio Communication Capacity Building

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"[P]olio is a disease of illiteracy. We have several segments of the community that to date don't even know what polio is, or how to prevent polio, or about the benefit of vaccinating a child. Otherwise, polio should have been eradicated long ago." - Mudassir Hassan, a Union Council Medical Officer (UCMO) working in Baldia Town, located in Karachi

Jointly organised by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Federal and Provincial Emergency Operation Centers on Polio, these training programmes are aimed at equipping over 48,000 vaccinators in Pakistan with up-to-date skills and information they need to successfully conduct upcoming National and Sub-national Immunization Days (NIDs) on polio. The programmes are designed to address the fact that the polio eradication initiative in Pakistan has been faced with several hurdles, including those emanating from traditional and religious misconceptions and misinformation.

Communication Strategies: 

The capacity building programmes are interactive, featuring presentations, role-plays, and other adult learning methodologies and tools. They cover technical and communication contents that are meant enhance the daily work performance of teams: topics ranging from micro plan preparation to tally sheet reporting to house and finger marking to the "continuous community protected vaccination" programme, which draws on full-time volunteers appointed from local areas to reach inaccessible children. They work throughout the month, covering 3-4 streets or a small village. Another focus of the training sessions is on interpersonal communication (IPC) skills.

 

What makes these training programmes different from previous ones is the use of RapidPro's text messaging system to evaluate and monitor the training sessions in real-time. (To learn about RapidPro, see Related Summaries, below.) With this system, master trainers and Area-in-Charges (AICs) are reporting the number of trainees, the challenges they faced, and overall progress of the programmes.

 

Trainings have been given to master trainers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Quetta, Sindh, and Punjab provinces. These master trainers are expected to cascade the trainings to AICs and vaccinators who are working at the frontline of the fight against polio. For example, having actively attended the training held in Karachi, Mudassir (quoted above) plans to impart the training at the Union Council. Mudassir also plans to train the Lady Health Workers in his town, Baldia (in the Sindh province, considered a high-risk polio corridor).

Development Issues: 

Immunisation and Vaccines

Key Points: 

Pakistan, one of the last two polio-endemic countries, reported 85% of the wild polio virus (WPV) cases in 2014. The country is now facing the challenge of curbing the circulation of WPV from its territory by mid-2016.

Partner Text: 

UNICEF, WHO, and the Federal and Provincial Emergency Operation Centers on Polio

Source: 

"Pakistan Prepares to Give Polio the Final Blow", by Yetenayet Kebede Fita, October 23 2015; and "World Polio Watchdog Concerned over Challenges to Eradicate Virus", by Ikram Junaidi, May 24 2015. Image caption/credit: "Frontline Health Workers Acquire Communication Skills at Training Session in Karachi" UNICEF/PAK2015/Kebede

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